The January loans Leeds United could consider including previously 'unthinkable' move for defender

Leeds United are not currently expected to do extensive incoming business in the January transfer window and could simply explore the loan market for a couple of additions, but there is more scope for activity when it comes to outgoing transfers.
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A number of Leeds players have been surplus to requirements thus far this season and their chances of game time, even in the case of injuries cropping up, appear slim enough to suggest they would be best served going elsewhere – at least temporarily. We’ve identified seven who could potentially head out on loan in January.

Charlie Cresswell: The notion of Leeds United sanctioning a loan move for Charlie Cresswell was unthinkable just a few short months ago. Returning from Millwall to start pre-season, having been there and done it for 28 games in the very division Leeds were entering, it was probably unthinkable for Cresswell too. Last season The Lions were there or thereabouts in the play-off race until they tailed off towards the end of the season. That drop off coincided, coincidentally or not, with Cresswell's absence due to a fractured eye socket and the surgery required to fix it. After his last appearance Millwall sat fifth, with a four point cushion keeping them in the play-off picture. A loss to Blackburn on the last day of the season condemned them to eighth place, missing out on an extension of the campaign by a point.

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So having tasted life at a club vying for promotion, albeit one with expectations set a fraction lower than a newly-relegated Premier League outfit, Cresswell could have been forgiven for coming home with his own expectations set relatively high. Game time was on the agenda, until Joe Rodon came in on loan and Pascal Struijk emerged as a vital part of Daniel Farke's possession game.

To date Cresswell has played in four of 17 Championship games and two of those featured his presence for the very last minute and stoppage time as Farke sought to protect his side from desperate aerial bombardments. Cresswell has 127 minutes of Championship action to his name and, for context, by this stage of last season he had 732 under his belt despite sitting out six whole games. Even when injuries have occured - Liam Cooper hurt his foot and Struijk played through hernia pain before an eventual operation - Cresswell has remained the fourth choice at centre-back and in a position where he apparently needs two injuries to occur further up the pecking order before he gets a chance. For five of the last seven games he hasn't even made the bench.

Farke did single the youngster out for praise earlier this season, highlighting how good Cresswell's attitude had been in training and how invested he was in the team's success. And it's possible that if Cooper has done himself another mischief - the captain went off holding the back of his leg at Rotherham - and Struijk isn't quite ready to start yet, then Cresswell could find himself in the side in midweek against Swansea. But by now the bigger picture has already been painted because Struijk, when fit, will play. Rodon, too. And the value Farke places on Cooper's leadership alone is enough to keep the skipper close to selection and on the bench at least. So Cresswell must surely be eyeing a move in January to go and play games. As for Leeds and how they would cope without Cresswell as back-up, they still have Ethan Ampadu and Luke Ayling who could slot into centre-back if needed in an emergency and plenty of cover in midfield and at right-back to deal with the subsequent reshuffle.

Lewis Bate: If missing out on 14 straight Championship matchday squads did not say it clearly enough, then Lewis Bate not even getting a kick in a Carabao Cup game at Salford City amplified the message that he's not in the plans. The midfielder spent last season on loan in League One and did well enough that Oxford United fans would most certainly have welcomed him back with open arms. Like Cresswell his campaign was ended prematurely by surgery, a hand injury derailing what was becoming a substantial body of work. Bate, again like Cresswell, played 28 league games and might well have set his sights on involvement with Leeds in the Championship this season, before the midfield department became staffed by players of greater experience or potential.

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The window of opportunity for Bate to add to the senior experience already under his belt essentially closed with the summer transfer deadline, leaving him to get his minutes in Premier League 2 with the Under 21s. But the window will reopen on January 1 and it would be a shock if he or Leeds settled for the status quo and a second half of the season spent treading water in age-group football.

LOAN MOVES? Joe Gelhardt and Charlie Cresswell have not been in the picture when it comes to Daniel Farke's Championship side of late and could consider their best chance of involvement coming with loan exits in January. Pic: GettyLOAN MOVES? Joe Gelhardt and Charlie Cresswell have not been in the picture when it comes to Daniel Farke's Championship side of late and could consider their best chance of involvement coming with loan exits in January. Pic: Getty
LOAN MOVES? Joe Gelhardt and Charlie Cresswell have not been in the picture when it comes to Daniel Farke's Championship side of late and could consider their best chance of involvement coming with loan exits in January. Pic: Getty

Leo Hjelde

Leo Hjelde is another player with no realistic chance of getting back into the senior side at present. He was unconvincing in both of his Carabao Cup appearances, looking shaky defensively in each game, and since being hooked at half-time of the Championship opener he is yet to earn another league minute. Hjelde hasn't been in a matchday squad since mid-September and his only recent club football has been of the Under 21 variety. Perhaps, with Michael Skubala now at Lincoln, Hjelde will be one of those the former Leeds 21s boss considers bringing in on loan. Skubala was certainly a fan of the Norwegian defender, describing him as recently as the end of October as a 'good young talent. "He’s so versatile, such a good technician and he’s so calm," said the new Imps manager. "So I think he can play left-back, he can play left centre half as well. I think he’s quite fortunate that he can do it all, but I think his ultimate best position is left of a three. He’s a good, young talent.”

Joe Gelhardt

A hand injury has kept the young forward out of action lately but even had he been fit, would he have played? Farke has Georginio Rutter creating merry hell up top, with Joel Piroe tucked in behind him. The wide positions are well stocked both on the pitch and on the bench, where Patrick Bamford also sits awaiting opportunities. Gelhardt is in need of game time at a decent level and a Championship, or even League One, loan move could help him kick-start things once more and remind him and Leeds of the potential everyone saw when he made such memorable and telling contributions to the first team in the Premier League.

Others whose time could be better spent than toiling away in Premier League 2 include Darko Gyabi, whose potential should have but has not led to involvement in the Championship this season and tricky forward Sean McGurk. Gyabi did have loan interest in the summer window but nothing materialised and McGurk, 20, is plainly too good for 21s football now and in need of a first ever test at senior level. Kris Klaesson, the club's number three goalkeeper, could also give a move away some consideration given the slim, at best, chance of him ever breaking through past Illan Meslier and Karl Darlow. Leeds have Dani van den Heuvel in the background if the presence of a third keeper is required.